One of our writers profiled Dr. Jenn Freitag (cover photo) by examining what she has in her office
Many students feel intimidated walking into the office of a professor, but Dr. Jenn Freitag, a full-time lecturer in the Department of Communication, tries to make her office a welcoming environment where students can feel comfortable discussing their progress in class, asking questions or simply chatting over a mug of hot tea.
Freitag was born in Iowa and holds a B.A. in Interpersonal Communication, an M.A. in Communication and a PhD in Communication. Before moving to Dayton to begin her first full-time teaching job, she spent time working in many capacities at various nonprofit organizations and other universities.
Freitag did nonprofit work part-time and as a volunteer, with much of her work centering on gender violence. She also worked full-time in a nonprofit doing prevention education and training others in schools and juvenile detention facilities.
Additionally, she worked at a university in Missouri where she coordinated all crisis and prevention services.
“I’ve bounced around doing a lot of that work, and that’s a big part of my research that I do now,” she said.
When it comes to what she loves about UD, Dr. Freitag’s answer is simple.
“I love being in the classroom with students, getting to know students,” she said. “That makes the job awesome. I think that UD students are go-getters.”
Freitag’s office is a small room on the first floor of St. Joseph’s Hall. She intentionally keeps the lights low to create a sense of warmth.
Wonder Woman memorabilia
The first thing to notice when entering her office is a giant Wonder Woman banner hanging on her wall. Depictions of the superhero fill her office, with Wonder Woman dolls displayed on her shelves and file cabinets.
“I just collect Wonder Woman stuff. It’s fun. I had students, in jest but also very genuinely, give me the Wonder Woman award because they know how much I love Wonder Woman,” she said.
For Freitag, having a fun office atmosphere helps alleviate the stress for herself as an academic and her students.
“I think that’s an important thing to be bringing into our academic spaces,” she said. “It’s okay to be a nerd about Wonder Woman, it’s okay to have fun with what you do and what you study.”
Pictures worth a thousand words
Another common theme in Freitag’s office is photos, with many featuring her students.
“I really enjoy working with students in the classroom and seeing the way that they develop their ideas,” she said. “I keep those pictures in here to motivate me.”
She also features several photos of her mentors and teachers who inspire her.
Additionally, Freitag has added a new perk to her office to relax students and contribute to the welcoming environment she hopes to create: tea. She got the idea from one of her professors, who would have a cup of tea with students during office hours.
“It was just really, really awesome,” Freitag said. “I liked it because I think in many ways we think of faculty offices as intimidating spaces that students feel a little bit weird about coming into.”
Freitag explained that she has decorated her office in such a way to remind those who enter that she is a person just like them, with passions, likes and dislikes. She hopes that with her special decorations and cozy ambiance, her office can be a space where students feel comfortable and excited to learn.